Note: This is our record of what transpired in the meeting. Not verbatim.

Meeting With The Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) – 2nd convening

Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on September 27th, 2016

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Officials from UNRA today, 27th September 2016, appeared before the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General Report for the Year June 2015.

The team from UNRA was led by its Executive Director, Allen Kagina. Former Executive Directors of the entity, James Okiror and Peter Ssebanakita also attended the meeting since some of the queries arose at a time when they were the Executive Directors. The meeting was chaired by Committee Chairperson, Abdu Katuntu, Bugweri County, Member of Parliament. The following Audit queries were considered;

Nugatory expenditure- arbitration award
The Auditor General reported that UGX 6.6bn was paid to Dott Engineering Services in arbitration that resulted from a dispute in the Centre of Arbitration and Dispute Resolution against Attorney General regarding a contract for the backlog roads maintenance programme for seven (7) roads in Kampala.

Management explained that the query arose as a result of the contractor making the following claims regarding the contract; sought for payment in Euros instead of Ugandan currency, extension of the contract due to security reasons at that time and increase the cost due to the extension of the period.

However, management directed the Consultant (Contractor Supervisor) to carry out an evaluation and found out that all the contractor’s claims were baseless. Although, management argued that the contractor didn’t have a case, it and the Attorney General appeared before the Tribunal only once and without evidence.

The committee resolved to summon the then Attorney General (Peter Nyombi), Solictor General and the legal officer who handled the matter. The UNRA legal officer then (Marvin Byaruha) didn’t appear before the committee but the chairperson informed the committee that an arrest warrant has been issued and he will be brought before the committee to consider the matter further.

Nugatory Expenditure – Payment of Interest
The Auditor General reported that a total of UGX 1.1bn was paid to an International Company as Interest on delayed payments for various payment certificates. Management explained that this was due to unavailability of funds. The committee resolved to stand on the matter since the Accounting Officer then (Ssebuga Kimeze) wasn’t around.

Nugatory Expenditure – Payment to a legal firm
UGX 254m was paid to Agaba Muheirwe & Co Advocates in respect of legal fees for
an individual plaintiff who sued UNRA for failing to give final advice on whether
to halt or continue building a commercial building on plot No 587, Block 438 at
Nkumba due to the on-going road construction.

Management explained that the then Executive Director of UNRA, Peter Ssebanakita wrote a letter to the plaintiff advising him not to construct the building but there was another that was issued to allow him to construct which management couldn’t locate its origin. The committee wasn’t satisfied with management’s response and directed it to reappear tomorrow with all the necessary documents.

Nugatory expenditure on Due Diligence for Katosi Road
Payment of UGX 58m was made to an Independent Consultant (Karoli Ssemogerere) to carry out due diligence on Eutaw Construction Company Incorporation for the road works on Katosi Road. The Auditor General further noted that while the contract for the Mukono-Katosi Road was signed on 15th November, 2013 the consultant was paid in July 2014 to travel to the USA for the exercise.
The exercise was for one month and the breakdown of the costs was as follows;
Payment Description                                  Amount US ($)
Per-diem for 20days                                    9, 000
Air travel                                                         6,000
Inland travel                                                  4,000
Contingency                                                  3,000
Total                                                                     22,000

The committee directed UNRA management to bring the Legal consultant before the committee tomorrow together with his Passport for the period of travel as well as a copy of the boarding parcel and the ticket.

Unaccounted for Advance – UGX.47.7bn to contractors to pay Project Affected Persons (PAPs)
The Auditor General observed that a sum of UGX 47.7bn was advanced and is now held up by various contractors for property compensations to Project affected Persons (PAPs) by roads construction projects. For instance, the Auditor General indicated that UGX 6.5bn advancement to Zhongmei Engineering firm for Olwiyo Gulu Project was not based on the valuation report approved by the Chief Government Valuer.

Other contractors holding  money include; China Railway 18th Group (Musita- Lumino-Busia Road) who received UGX 12.9bn as an advance, UGX 6.45m to PAPs.
China Railway No. 3 Group (Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa received UGX 12.9bn and only UGX 5.98bn has been given out. China Railway No.5 Group (Gulu-Acholibur), received Ugx 8.4bn, it has given out only UGX 6.83m as compensation. And lastly, Chongqing International Construction Company (Acholibur- Musingo Road) was given UGX 7bn and it has compensated PAPs using UGX 3.39bn only.

The committee questioned the procedure of advancing money to contractor before verification by the Chief Government Valuer. It further asked UNRA how it ensures that the PAPs get their compensations.

UNRA management explained that when planning for road construction, they have what they call the Resettlement Action Plan which indicates the amount of land they plan to acquire and its value. This is included in the budget for road construction and thereafter advanced to the contractor to compensate the PAPs. Despite the explanation the committee wasn’t convinced.

Management further responded that the process of acquiring land is very contentious and requested the committee to have a separate meeting regarding the process of land acquisition for their projects.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting to tomorrow 9:30 am.

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